Niger Coup: How Tinubu Escaped The Banana Peel
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu manifested one of the qualities that made him a political maverick; how he navigated the slippery political impasse in the Niger Republic- as the chair of the ECOWAS, he prevailed to intervene on the impasse- a task many viewed as a delicate one.
The tall orders were many and the Nigerian president wasted no time in reeling them out; first was the border closure between Nigeria and Niger- the Nigerian custom boss Adeniyi Wale literally relocated to the borders between these two nations with cultural, religious, and diplomatic ties. In the few days since the order came to effect, the effects were evident and glaringly biting. A news report showed a long stretch of trailers who entered Niger from Nigeria stranded on the border as they could no longer enter Nigeria.
It is obvious that a military solution to the political crisis in Niger will in the long run create another Afghanistan in our backyard. This is no 1990, any ECOMOG military adventure in Niger may lead to a catastrophic end. None of the countries in ECOMOG has the resources or logistics to embark on this herculean military adventure. In 1990, it was the US and British airforce that provided aerial support to ECOMOG troops in the wake of Taylor’s relentless barrage of mortal attacks.
Think about this for a moment, if 4 bulbs are on in France, 3 are powered by uranium France extract for next to no cost from Niger. Sadly, 90% of Niger’s power supply comes from Nigeria. France has 1.5k soldiers in Niger. The US’s largest drone base is located in Agadez, in Niger. The West wants that country to be its perpetual outpost with a leader that answers to Washington and Paris. If ECOMOG intervenes, it will not only be confronted by a determined military but also a rebellious population. Wagner currently does not operate in Niger but is one call away. Algeria has tacitly stated it will provide covert military support to its Saharan neighbor in the eventuality of ECOMOG invasion. Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Mali have publicly stated they will consider ECOMOG troops’ invasion of Niger as a declaration of war. The soldiers we intend to send into Niger may not feel comfortable pulling the trigger against their ex-comrades – who have been instrumental in the war against Boko Haram and ISWAP in the Northeast. Chad may not participate in a military invasion of Niger. The first casualty of such a military adventure will be ECOWAS itself.
I know for a fact President Tinubu is scared of Niger’s scenario playing out in Nigeria but the border between the civil and military estates is blurred. Our military is increasingly civilian-lized by virtue of its intense involvement in domestic security. His greatest foreign policy blunder would be the greenlighting of ECOMOG invasion of Niger. We must resist the temptation of turning a former commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) that is combating terrorism in the Northeast of our country into a militia leader. Furthermore, an invasion of Niger would create a vacuum and provide the perfect safe haven for Boko Haram and ISWAP to regroup and launch audacious attacks on our territory. Nigerians of modest means are bitterly feeling the hardship in the country, our IDPS are not left out and Niger hosts thousands of our refugees thus the need to resist the temptation of creating another humanitarian catastrophe by the use of force in Niger. A stable Niger regardless of its political outlook is a stable Nigeria. An invasion of Niger will not only lead to humanitarian crisis but also fuel the rise of violent jihadist movements in the North. Our military has reduced the terrorist capacity to launch an offensive to next to zero, a war in Niger will provide the terrorists in ICU two things: a safe haven and a black market for weapons.
Nigeria has historically been a strong advocate of non-alignment but we cannot close our eyes to the happening in our Northern border countries. If we must align, national interest must be the driving force and it is in the core national interest of our country to have a stable Niger. History has shown force does not provide a long-term solution to any conflict, diplomacy does. Diplomacy may be time-consuming and painful but it is our best answer to the Niger question.
Credit to: lidership.ng